Earworms rapid languages – learn to speak japanese
You should learn a language in a relaxed frame of mind, and Earworms can teach you any language from Spanish to Chinese and Japanese using memory hooks and music to help you remember words you’ve never heard before.
Earworms is an interesting new way of learning languages, mixing lessons with music to help you retain the information.
According to the Earworms press release, the latest neuropsychological studies confirm that the brain actually wants to learn and gets a buzz in the form of a dose of dopamine (the happiness-inducing hormone) when it experiences success.
So learning doesn’t have to be hard to be good – in fact, the brain retains more information when you’re calm and relaxed.
The idea behind Earworms is that you don’t have to concentrate too hard when you’re learning a new language. In fact, you shouldn’t concentrate – you should just sit back, relax, and let your brain do all the hard work.
And the music has two functions.
Firstly, it puts your brain in the so-called alpha state, so you’re in the ideal, relaxed state for learning.
Secondly, it allows the sounds of the words to plant themselves deep in your auditory cortex, ready for instant recall.
To test Earworms as hard as I could, I chose the ‘teach yourself japanese’ course on audio CD. Japanese is one hell of a language to learn – numbers change according to when you use them, there are fifty million ways of saying ‘thank you’, and it’s not in any way what we call a ‘latin’ language (one of those western european languages like french, spanish or italian, which share similar roots so you can always take a pot-shot at what a word means, if you’ve heard something a bit like it in another language).
Yep, I thought japanese would be a good test.
Well – and this is very important – the music is nice. If the Earworms lessons are selling themselves on including the music, it has to be something you want to listen to, not something you want to turn off.
The music on the Japanese Earworms CD is soothing, pleasant, but not so new age and anodyne that it disappears up its own arse. It actually sounds attractively ambient, like Future Sound of London.
An English man is learning to speak the language from a Japanese woman. They both have good, clear voices, and seem to be having a giggle.
Be warned… The Earworms experience packs in a LOT of vocabulary! It builds the most important phrases you’ll need into a conversation, and usefully repeats the phrases (and the most important individual words, like ‘hello’, ‘thank you’, ‘excuse me’, ‘yes’) again and again and AGAIN. Because of the music this repetition isn’t tiresome. Sometimes Earworms takes a DJ’s mixing technique and repeats a word for several seconds, the way you get builds in music.
So the couple speaking might be playing around with the phrase ‘Can I have some tea, please’ and ‘please’ in japanese will build to a crescendo… and as I result, you won’t forget ‘please’ in japanese in a hurry, even if you forget the rest of it.
This ‘learn japanese’ CD is now my favourite toy. I honestly don’t think anything can beat language lessons, where you have to do the speaking yourself, and where you’re communicating with someone else. And where you’re given homework, to make sure you got the point of the lesson.
However. As far as ‘teach yourself a language’ CDs go, I think Earworms has got it right. I’ve listened to my japanese CD a few times, now. On the bus, going shopping, and even while buying a Christmas tree (which was great, because it turned out the seller had lived in Japan for three months and taught me some new phrases in his very best Samurai warlord accent).
I’ve even listened to it while going to sleep. As I listened to lessons a couple of times over, the speaking couple began to feel like old friends. I had the individual words memorised, and felt a little more familiarity with the phrases.
If you’re going abroad and you don’t have time to take lessons, but you do want to speak the language as much as possible, I recommend you buy two things: an Earworms CD and a phrasebook. Earworms do rapid learning CD courses in Italian, French, CHINESE!, Greek, German, Arabic, Portuguese and… sigh… Japanese. This will be enough to get you through.
They’ve also made their courses downloadable for iTunes users. How useful!
Now you just have to book a plane ticket.
You can find out more at www.earwormslearning.com